What's Happening

Shakespeare in Yosemite: post-production editor Rilee Hoch

By Cymbeline Anthropocene on Sep 24, 2021 at 06:24 PM in Project News

While filming Imogen in the Wild, Shakespeare in Yosemite’s research assistant Monica Perales interviewed the cast and crew about their experience adapting Cymbeline. This eighth interview presents Monica in conversation with Rilee Hoch, one of the film’s post-production editors and a student at UC Merced.

MP: What role or roles do you play in Imogen in the Wild?

RH: I am a part of the editing team, so I am working on taking in all the film and kind of piecing it together to make it into one cohesive part. I also did a little bit of work with the education team, and sent them some of my information on Color Theory. 

MP: Yeah, for sure. Anything that you’ve helped with, I definitely want to know. I know that people are wearing tons of hats! What does the current post-production process look like?

RH: Our wonderful cinematographer, Sean, took in all the video that they recorded while they were on set and kind of synced up the video with the audio clips for us, so we don't have to do that because it's really difficult. He did all of that piece, and he broke the video up into sections where each scene has these clips in it. He kind of uses the script to do that. He put them into project files on Adobe Premiere—it's kind of like the go-to editing software for most people. 

And so, he put this on a hard drive and gave it to us, and then gave us assignments like, “You're editing this scene. You're editing the scene.” So it's me, Brandon, and Will, and he broke them up by location, so that each of us would be doing similar pieces so that it looked cohesive. And then we just take the hard drives and open the projects and kind of cut the video where we think it should be cut and paste them all together in that way, so that it forms one very long video. And then we send them back to Sean, and Sean's taking those long scenes and turning them into the full episodes. So, just like we've cut things to make our scenes, he's cutting all our scenes together to make one whole piece. 

After that's done, we are going to go in and adjust things like color and adjust things slightly that we need in order to see the whole thing together first. You don't want to adjust color of just one particular video clip because it's a part of a whole. You have to wait for the whole to be done and then you can play around with tones of color and adding text onto the screen and then decide if this song should go in between here and that kind of thing. That's what we're just kind of easing into now.

MP: I think that’s a really helpful picture of what’s going on and even your plans.

RH: I was really stressed out about it because I have actually never worked with this software before. When I was in high school, I worked with different Adobe things. I've done Photoshop and things like that because I was on my school's yearbook editing team, so I understand photography and photo correction and stuff but video and audio are a whole other level! If you talk to Brandon or Will, I'm sure they'll be able to hit you with some way more technical details and the actual words that you should use for things because they understand it a little bit more than I do. I'm just kind of like an artistic mind on the team, figuring it out as I go.

MP: Well, the good news is for a project like this, artistic minds are super helpful! What is your experience with Shakespeare? What drew you to this project, specifically?

RH: Oh wow! That's also a long answer for me. I have known about Shakespeare for way more of my life than I haven't known about Shakespeare. We started when I was in high school, and I had always been a huge English fan. I was that kid who was like, “I'm going to be an English teacher when I grow up.” So when we started learning it, I automatically kind of was drawn to it just because we're learning it in English class, so it automatically gets an A+ for me. But as I got older and I started reading more of the plays and having the opportunity to reread them, I started to have this deeper understanding of how this guy is a genius and these plays are so applicable to different areas of my life, and the current situations going on in the world. 

And so when I got into college, I took an “Intro to Shakespeare” class with Professor Brokaw, and I just loved that class. Everyone who is in there could tell you it was the rowdiest class. It was kind of huge for an English class at UC Merced, and everyone was having the greatest time. I think I would give 80% of that credit to Professor Brokaw and 20% of that to the fact that it was Shakespeare, but regardless, everyone was having a great time, and so that just kind of pushed me to want to take more classes like that in college instead of just looking at Shakespeare on my own. So when Professor Brokaw was offering “Advanced Shakespeare,” I immediately decided to take that class. [In that class] she was talking about this project that they have going on [with Shakespeare in Yosemite] and I had gone to see the production the year previous—I thought it was really good! But then I thought there's no way that I can be involved in it because I have a little bit of stage fright. I'm not a very good actor, and I was like, “No you know, that's not for me. There's no way that I could be a part of that.” 

Then, I was looking for things that I needed to graduate because I'm graduating early. And there was this one credit that they had and it was a project called Shakespeare in Yosemite. And then we had class again and Professor Brokaw was talking about it again, so I signed up and we sort of started this whole process, and then [the university] actually changed the qualifications for graduation and took that credit off—suddenly, I didn’t need to be doing this anymore, but I guess it was just a sign and God was like, “I'm going to make you think that you need this so you do it and then in the end you're not even going to need it. You're just going to be doing it just to do it.” 

I love reading Shakespeare. Yeah. I was always one of those kids that just kind of got it. So everyone else in my class hated me because they were like, “This is terrible and it's so hard to read. What do you mean you're having fun?” And I don't know. It's easy for me but to each their own, I guess.

MP: Okay, so we will shift a little bit more. What is your personal experience with environmentalism and eco-theatre?

RH: I came into college not really knowing that much about it except for what you see on social media—such as don't use straws, and all this sort of stuff—and you know, being my age, I hadn't really had an actual intellectual understanding. Just at kind of face value, I don't want the planet to be on fire or frozen, so I should probably be careful about how much waste I am producing. 

But then, for [UC Merced students] to graduate, even if you're an English major, you have to take a general elective in science. So, I signed up for “Earth System Science,” for one semester, and I actually learned a lot, and I was kind of absorbing it all. I had a really lovely teacher. So, when the next semester rolled around, and I needed to take another similar class, I signed up and I took “Sustainability” as a class. Right now I'm actually taking an environmental engineering class, which is about how we can make spaces environmentally friendly: what it takes to create this sustainable world in terms of buildings. And so it's just been something that I didn't really intend to get interested in whatsoever, but the more that you learn about it, the more that you want to learn about it, because this is really important for our world as a whole.

MP: Awesome. How do you think ecotheatrical productions can impact environmental consciousness in the cast, crew, audience, or anyone who comes into contact with this film?

RH: There's a lot of times where we talk about how texts are really important, and you can learn a lot from them, but certain things like plays and stuff are meant to be performed, not just read. And to translate that into this, I feel like a lot of people hear about environmental issues and issues of sustainability and our world through the grapevine. They might read headlines, but they don't really care. You know, “It's not my problem so someone else will fix it. It doesn't matter what I do so long as there are those people out there that aren't doing their sustainable thing, and my life won't really make a difference,” and they just kind of write it off. But then, when you go and you watch a production, it's an emotional thing.  I would just say that everyone who gets the chance to be exposed to ecotheatre, even a little bit, will probably come out of it a little bit more understanding. Not everyone, of course, some people are very stuck in their views and ways, and you could expose them to it a million times in a million formats and they wouldn't change. But I would say for the average person, it's very impactful, it makes it feel really tangible to see.

MP: Thank you. What do you hope viewers will take away from this performance?

RH: Probably a couple of things. I've said there's not really good production of this play in existence, so hopefully everyone that's exposed to this will be exposed to the play in a way that they never have before, because it kind of gets swept under the rug and there's no great movie adaptation. Hopefully, we’re making an actually approachable and good quality production of it. 

Second thing, you don't need a ginormous Hollywood budget and Hollywood film crew to make something good. If you have people who really care about what they're doing and who are willing to work really hard, you can take bad circumstances and low availability and patch it all together to make something that's actually really great and could easily rival something that has a huge budget and a ton of people working on it. It’s inspiring to think that a group of professors and college kids and Shakespeare influencers can come together to make something this good. 

The third thing would be when you're teaching someone about something like environmental impact, it does not have to be boring. The message of it is very strong in the way that they've reshaped this play, and even the original songs and the way that they filmed it come through very strongly. It's a wonderful production, [and makes environmental discourse ] less like pulling teeth to talk about. It can be entertaining and fun, and still do everything that the production team wants it to do in terms of calling out people and having people think about protecting our world at the same time. Just because you're talking about a hard and really important subject doesn't mean that it has to be hard to do.

MP: What has been a highlight of your involvement with this production?

RH: I'll give you two! The first one is probably meeting our editing team on a deeper level. I was in two classes with Brandon and Will this semester, but both of them are transfer students this semester. A lot of the students that I’m on Zoom with I have met in real life on campus, but not them. And that's been a blessing for me, getting to know them, because they're both really, really cool—as is Sean who is in charge of our little ragtag team. Hopefully it's been a blessing to them because they're able to make these sort of connections before they come back to school in the Fall. I was just expecting a group project kind of vibe where you're working with people and you don't really know them. I'm actually graduating in the summer, so I won't be able to see everyone in-person again, which is really sad, but we’ve become close. 

Another highlight is getting access to all the film clips when you're editing. We just got all the raw footage. There's a lot of really funny bloopers, so hopefully we'll be able to put together a blooper reel. I don't know if it'll go on the film. Probably not. It might just be for the cast and crew. I am really fortunate that I get access to that because there have been times where I've been editing stuff, and I started laughing so hard I was crying!

MP: What has been the biggest challenge so far?

RH: I am blessed in that I'm working on editing, so a lot of the challenges for everyone kind of happened on set and when they were recording things. So it hasn't been too difficult. But I would say, at least for me, I'm taking five classes this semester and I'm rushing to finish school, so just finding the time to sit with these pieces and work on them has been a little difficult, but there hasn't been anything too particularly challenging.

Because I am a bit of a perfectionist I want to sit there for like four hours and adjust everything—that was a challenge in the very, very beginning learning the software, but that's because I am not that good with computer stuff, so trying to learn how to use Premiere and software was a little bit of a challenge at first, but now that I've got it, it's fine.

MP: Do you have any other thoughts that you'd like to share with me?

RH: You probably already know this, but everyone who has been working on this project has been such a joy to work with, and I think it would be nice to highlight the fact that it's a lot of people wearing a lot of hats. You wouldn't think that we could produce something good, with the professors and everyone else who was working so hard on this under such challenging circumstances. I'm in awe of the actors, especially the student actors working with professionals. Sean, our cinematographer, and everyone that I've come in contact with is so wonderful to work with. This is my first big project, and I hope that in the coming years everyone should try and be involved if they can because it's like a wonderful thing to be a part of. So yeah, I guess just a call out to other students to get involved! Do something fun. It's a good project to be a part of, and they're wonderful people to work with. I'm going to put it on my resume, and it's gonna help me get a job I'm sure.

MP: Thank you so much. 
RH: Thank you!